MLS NEXT Pro Matchday 23 Preview


MLS NEXT Pro regular season returns to its traditional schedule with matches running from Wednesday through Monday over the next week. 

Chicago Fire II welcomes NYCFC II to SeatGeek Stadium on Wednesday, kicking off another important schedule of matches. 

Friday’s two-match slate takes place at York Lions Stadium and CITYPARK respectively with TFC II and St. Louis CITY2 serving as host teams for Matchday 23. Saturday’s busy slate begins with Columbus Crew 2 hosting FC Cincinnati 2 at Historic Crew Stadium. 

Monday concludes Matchday 23 with ATL UTD 2 making the trip up north to face New York Red Bulls II. 

Here is a closer look at the Matchday 23 schedule:

Wednesday - 8/16

Chicago Fire II vs. NYCFC II (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Only six points separates Chicago Fire II and NYCFC II ahead of Wednesday’s showdown from SeatGeek Stadium.

Fire II have earned points in each of their last four league matches, most recently claiming two points in a 5-4 shootout win Sunday over Inter Miami II. Luka Prpa and Romain Blake were among the goalscorers for Fire II, who currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference. Fire II defeated NYCFC II 5-3 in a shootout back in mid-July and will be seeking a similar result on home soil.

NYCFC II’s worrying run of form continued Sunday after losing 4-3 at home to Orlando City B. Despite Matthew Myers’ brace, Matt Pilkington’s squad suffered their fourth defeat in their past five matches. Myers’ 15 goals has him sitting first in the MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot race as he continues to be NYCFC II’s top scoring threat.

Friday - 8/18

TFC II vs. New England Revolution II (8 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

TFC II will be seeking their second multi-match winning streak in recent weeks as New England Revolution II come to town.

Gianni Cimini’s squad last defeated New York Red Bulls II by a 2-1 scoreline on Matchday 21 thanks to two late goals from Dekwon Barrow and Myles Morgan at MSU Soccer Park. TFC II have won three of their last four matches which has started to turn things around this season. Jesus Batiz leads the team with eight goals while Hugo Mbongue has also contributed five of his own.

New England Revolution II’s regulation unbeaten streak was extended to eight matches on Sunday after a 5-1 home victory over ATL UTD 2. Clint Peay’s squad have continued to be one of the more consistent teams this summer, as they sit just four points back of first place Crown Legacy FC. Jordan Adebayo-Smith has scored in three-straight matches for Revs II and overall has 12 goals in 2023.

St. Louis CITY2 vs. Timbers2 (10 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

St. Louis CITY2 have yet to lose to Timbers2 in MLS NEXT Pro action and will try and extend that winning streak on Friday. 

CITY2 are 3-0-0 in their previous meetings with Timbers2, claiming a 2-1 road win at Providence Park back in late-May. Bobby Murphy’s squad have earned points in each of their last four matches, including one point in Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss to MNUFC2. John Klein leads the way with 10 goals this season, including four in his last three appearances.

Timbers2 suffered a 6-1 loss to Sporting KC II on Sunday and will be seeking a bounce-back performance. It marked the second regulation defeat for Shannon Murray’s squad in their past five matches, which puts added importance on Friday’s trip to St. Louis. Florian Monzon continues to lead Timbers2 with eight goals so far in 2023.

Saturday 8/19

Columbus Crew 2 vs. FC Cincinnati 2 (6 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Two Eastern Conference rivals coming off opposite Matchday 22 results will clash at Historic Crew Stadium on Saturday.

Crew 2 suffered a 5-0 home loss to New York Red Bulls II on Sunday, which was the largest margin of defeat for Laurent Courtois’ men since July 25. The defending league champions have endured an up-and-down run of form over recent weeks, which also included losses to Chicago Fire II and Philadelphia Union II. Noah Fuson and Marco Micaletto have combined for 12 goals this season for Crew 2 and will be among those to watch this weekend. 

FC Cincinnati 2 snapped their four-match losing streak on Sunday by claiming a 2-1 win over Philadelphia Union II. Ben Stitz and Malik Pinto continued positive campaigns by both finding the back of the net. The duo have eight combined goals in 2023 and remain potential scoring candidates once again for Tyrone Marshall’s squad.

Inter Miami II vs. Crown Legacy FC (6 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Last place Inter Miami II faces East-leading Crown Legacy FC on Saturday in the second of two regular-season meetings in 2023.

Federico Higuain’s squad looked destined to earn multiple points on Sunday in Chicago, but could only walk away with one against Fire II. Miles Perkovich scored a brace though, giving Inter Miami II a new offensive weapon to rely on down the final few weeks of the season. A regulation victory would be Miami’s first since June 8.

Crown Legacy FC returned to winning ways on Sunday after blanking Huntsville City FC 1-0 on home soil. Iuri Tavares’ 91st minute goal was all the East leaders needed to claim another three points in what has been a stellar 2023 so far. The result helped the expansion side clinch a playoff berth with six matches left to play. Jose Tavares’ men shutout Inter Miami II 3-0 back in April.

Huntsville City FC vs. Philadelphia Union II (8 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Eighth hosts seventh in Eastern Conference play as Huntsville City FC welcomes Philadelphia Union II to town on Saturday. 

Jack Collison’s squad remains in the playoff race this season after only losing two of their last eight matches in regulation. A dynamic attack has certainly helped Huntsville City FC in 2023, which has been led by Azaad Liadi and Kemy Amiche, who have 15 combined goals this season. Sunday’s showdown with Union II will be the first of two meetings over the final weeks of the campaign. 

Union II’s six-match unbeaten regulation streak came to an end on Sunday with a 2-1 home loss to FC Cincinnati 2. Marlon LeBlanc’s squad remains one of the more consistent teams this summer though after earning crucial results against Columbus Crew 2 and NYCFC II. Union II has one of the league’s dynamic attacking units led by Stefan Stojanovic and Jeremy Rafanello (15 combined goals in 2023).

Sporting KC II vs. MNUFC2 (8 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

The first of two regular-season meetings between Sporting KC II and MNUFC2 takes place at Rock Chalk Park on Saturday. 

Benny Feilhaber’s squad blitzed Timbers2 for a 6-1 win on Sunday, using a hat trick from Alenis Vargas and additional goals from Ethan Bryant, Josh Coan, and Lucas Rosa to earn a confident victory. SKC II are fourth in the West heading into Matchday 23 and could still propel themselves into the top-two by season’s end. 

MNUFC2 will aim to extend their point streak to four matches after defeating St. Louis CITY2 by a 4-3 scoreline in a shootout on Sunday. Kameron Lacey and Molik Khan both scored goals for Cameron Knowles’ squad, continuing a positive individual campaign for them both. MNUFC2 split the regular-season series with SKC II in 2022 with Tommy Williamson and Diogo Pacheco both scoring in a 2-1 triumph in June 2022.

North Texas SC vs. Tacoma Defiance (8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV))

Tacoma Defiance will be seeking a regular-season sweep of North Texas SC on Saturday when the two square off at Choctaw Stadium. 

Wade Webber’s squad suffered a 3-1 home defeat to Colorado Rapids 2 on Sunday, which snapped a three-match unbeaten run in the process. The Defiance are third in the Western Conference, but missed a golden opportunity to trim the gap at the top of the table. Braudilio Rodrigues and Raul Miglietti have 15 combined goals this season and will now try to rebound against a North Texas SC squad that is desperate for a statement win. 

North Texas SC have only won one of their last 10 matches in regulation, which is why they are sitting 11th place in the West. A 4-2 shootout loss to Real Monarchs on Saturday continued a worrying run of form for NTX, who only has five matches left to play this regular season. Hope Avayevu and Jose Mulato have 11 goals between them in 2023, but help will be needed from all if NTX wants to make the postseason.

Colorado Rapids 2 vs. LAFC II (9:30 p.m. ET,

Colorado Rapids 2 clinched their playoff spot on Sunday and now turns their attention toward LAFC II on Saturday. 

Erik Bushey’s squad defeated Tacoma Defiance 3-1 on Sunday, helping them eclipse the 50-point mark so far this season. Their 55 goals scored are the highest in the league in 2023, which is led by Yosuke Hanya and Remi Cabral’s 21 combined tallies. Rapids 2 might have a playoff spot locked up, but don’t expect them to slow down with six matches to play. 

LAFC II earned its best result of the 2023 campaign on Saturday after putting six goals past LA Galaxy II. Leonardo Flores scored a brace for LAFC II while four additional players found the back of the net, including Christian Torres. Confidence will be high in the LAFC II squad, especially after only suffering a 1-0 loss to Rapids 2 in June.

Earthquakes II vs. Houston Dynamo 2 (10 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV)

Fifth meets seventh in Western Conference play as Houston Dynamo 2 visits Earthquakes II on Sunday night. 

Dynamo Dos are riding a six-match unbeaten run in regulation, which involved recent wins over Colorado Rapids 2 and Whitecaps FC 2 (shootout). Kenny Bundy’s squad have started turning things around, which has done wonders for their playoff hopes. Papa Ndoye and Diego Gonzalez have been key for Dynamo Dos in the final third, combining for 19 goals and four assists so far in 2023.

Quakes II’s four-match unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday after suffering a 2-0 home loss to Austin FC II. Daniel De Geer’s squad will now try and rebound against an in-form Dynamo Dos squad, who is jostling with them for playoff seeding. Eduardo Blancas and Ousseni Bouda have 10 combined goals this season and will be eager to help Quakes II get back on track.

LA Galaxy II vs. Real Monarchs (10:30 p.m. ET,

Only four points separates LA Galaxy II and Real Monarchs in the bottom half of the West table. 

LA Galaxy II are sitting bottom of the standings after suffering their fourth-straight regulation loss this summer. A 6-0 hammering at the hands of LAFC II was the latest worrying result for Galaxy II, who now aim to get back on track at home. Aaron Bibout leads the team with 10 goals while Axel Picazo and Alex Alcala have combined for seven tallies themselves. 

Real Monarchs have earned points in each of their last two matches, which both ended up going to shootouts. A 4-2 win over North Texas SC on Saturday was led by Ilijah Paul’s 93rd minute equalizer and a strong team effort in the shootout at Zions Bank Stadium. Monarchs have defeated Galaxy II once already in 2023, once again using shootout heroics to do so.

Sunday - 8/20

Whitecaps FC 2 vs. Austin FC II (5 p.m. ET,

Austin FC II heads into Matchday 23 seeking a regular-season sweep of Whitecaps FC 2.

Brett Uttley’s squad defeated Whitecaps FC 2 by a 1-0 scoreline in June and will now aim for three points at Swangard Stadium. Austin FC II are riding a six-match unbeaten run in regulation, which last featured a 2-0 triumph over Earthquakes II. Sebastien Pineau registered a brace in that match, which now has him first in the club’s scoring ranks for 2023.

Whitecaps FC 2 have not won a match in regulation in over two months and will desperately be trying to change that on Sunday night. Ricardo Clark’s men have only earned two points in their past eight matches, which is why they are in danger of missing the postseason. Their 40 goals conceded are ranked for the fourth-most in the West while their 30 goals scored are the fifth-fewest. Something has to change for Whitecaps FC 2 and an upset win on home soil could be the spark that’s needed.

Monday - 8/21

New York Red Bulls II vs. ATL UTD 2 (7 p.m. ET,

Another pair of Eastern Conference clubs coming off opposite Matchday 22 results will meet to close out Matchday 23’s schedule. 

New York Red Bulls II welcomes ATL UTD 2 to MSU Soccer Park with third place on their minds. A 5-0 beatdown of Columbus Crew 2 will surely be fresh on the minds of Red Bulls II, who continued their quest to capture the No. 1 seed in the East. Five different players scored in Sunday’s lopsided victory, including Ibrahim Kasule who remains a top talent for Red Bulls II. Kasule now has 11 goals in 2023, which leads the squad.

ATL UTD 2’s 5-1 road loss at New England Revolution II continued a struggling run of form for Steve Cooke’s squad. The result marked the sixth defeat out of the past seven matches for ATL UTD 2, who dropped to 10th place on 27 points. The goals have dried up for ATL UTD 2, who have only scored two goals or more twice over the past six weeks.